Sledding is a popular winter recreation and is only enjoyed for part of the year. Still, about 20,000 children are admitted to the emergency room each year, new research shows. The researchers analyzed the data over a 10-year period. They found more than 200,000 injuries serious enough for a trip to the emergency room in that time period among children under the age of 19.

The main findings of this study are the following:

  • It was found that 26% of the injuries were fractures.
  • 25% of the injuries were cuts and bruises.
  • 51% of injuries occurred during a collision.
  • 34% of the injuries involved a blow to the head.
  • 52% of the injuries were at a sports or recreation venue.
  • 31% of the injuries occurred on private property.
  • 42.5% of the injuries involved children aged 10 to 14 years.
  • 59.8% of all injuries were suffered by children.
  • 4.1% of all emergency room visits required hospitalization.

Children were more likely to suffer head injuries and be diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and hospitalized if these accidents occurred on the street. The two main factors that contribute to sledding-related injuries are environment and location. Tobogganing areas must be clear of trees and other obstacles. There must be enough exit areas off the streets to avoid collisions with motorized vehicles.

The sled has proven to be a bigger problem than originally thought. Given the potential for serious injury, children should never ride a sled pulled by a motorized vehicle of any kind, including ATVs, snowmobiles, cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, dirt bikes, and lawnmowers. More research is needed to determine whether helmets would reduce injury rates or the severity of injuries. They also examined the types of sleds involved in the injuries, from sleds and snow tubes to slides and snow discs. Some other findings that were discovered are:

  • Children ages 9 and older were more likely to be injured in collisions.
  • Children 4 years and younger were more likely to be involved in vehicle accidents.
  • A third of all injuries were caused by children pulled by motorized vehicles.
  • The use of sleds that can rotate, such as snow discs and tubes, should be discouraged. Lack of control contributes to more injuries.
  • Children must be supervised by parents when sledding at all times.

The data in this article comes from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the US Census Bureau.

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